If you’re a fiction writer, you need three-dimensional characters.  If your characters are flat and boring, you won’t have a very good story.

I like to start any story I write by creating my characters, or at least the main characters in my stories. In a children’s story, the number of characters should be appropriate to their ages.  So, the younger the child, the fewer the characters. Usually one main character is good for kids up to eight. Over that, you can have a few more, but I’d stick to two or three until you’re in the young adult reading area or kids will become confused by what they’re reading.

Daisy Ashford as a child
Image via Wikipedia

But, a really great way to create a truly three-dimensional character is by creating a dossier file for them. It can have tons of stuff in it, such as pictures that look like you think your character might look, music they might like, etc. And it should have a questionnaire that you fill out from your imagination. Here are 20 questions you can use to get started:

  1. What’s your name?
  2. How old are you?
  3. What are your mother and father’s names?
  4. How old are they?
  5. Where does your father work?
  6. Where does your mother work?
  7. What do you want to be when you grow up?
  8. What’s your best friend’s name?
  9. Where do you go to school?
  10. What grade are you in?
  11. What’s your teacher’s name?
  12. What’s your favorite subject?
  13. What do you like to do when you have free time?
  14. Do you have any pets?
  15. What’s your pet’s name?
  16. Do you have any brothers and sisters?
  17. What are their names?
  18. Do you go to church?
  19. What’s your favorite food?
  20. What kind of music do you like?

You can go on and on if you like, but you don’t want to get so wrapped up in creating characters that you forget to write the story. But…

You might be really surprised at how well this works to get your story’s conflict determined. You know the character, so you probably also know where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and knowing them really well will help you to create a problem for them, which makes your story.

Try this method next time you write a short story. Create a three-dimensional main character and see where things lead from there.

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